$500 New Shop Budget!

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Blog entry by Cathie Zimmerman posted 03-05-2016 04:43 PM 986 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve drawn many plans… to many projects… These projects have included everything from programming micro controllers, engineering helpful technology for around the house and designing furniture for kids. The problem is… When it comes to woodworking I was always so nervous about it not being perfect that I never made the first cut.

My wife gave me a budget of $500 to get some tools and materials to get started!

I have a basic Ryobi kit with an impact drill, drill, circular saw, brad nailer, sawzall, coping saw and a back saw. Don’t forget the wood glue and two clamps! I bought a set of chisels from Harbor Freight. Truth is I have several automotive tools but not a whole lot for woodworking.

So what will I spend this $500 on? I have wish list.

Hand planes – no idea what kinds for a beginner!
Sharpening Stones
Router plane
Spoke shave
Dovetail saw
Work bench
More clamps!

Or maybe even…

A good table saw. Looking at this nice Ridgid one I’ve been researching.

I have no idea what I’m going to do but I’m hoping that IF I can get a table saw… I can talk her into giving up a couple extra hundred for a couple basic tools! Ha!

Anyway, if anyone ever reads this… Feel free to make suggestions. I have no idea what I’m doing… I have tons of ideas and can’t wait to dig into some wood… But have no idea what I’m doing!

4 comments so far

View CaptainSkully's profile


1407 posts in 2981 days

#1 posted 03-05-2016 05:05 PM

For my money, I’d look into a decent contractor’s portable table saw and a fixed/plunge router kit. From there, you can build a whole lot of things. Stuff like spokeshaves are great to show off your classic craftsman tools, but are for specific processes for specific projects. With a basic stable of tools, you can build all kinds of cool stuff. I’d add to that a little at a time for project specific purchases. For example, with the contractor table saw that I started with before getting the big Delta cabinet saw, I built a coat tree, tabouret tables, magazine rack, etc. Once I knew I was serious about furnishing my home, I upgraded the saw then the old one conked out. I bought a mortising machine when I was faced with a project that had dozens of mortises (an occupation hazard since I build mostly Arts & Crafts style furniture).

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

View htl's profile


2035 posts in 581 days

#2 posted 03-06-2016 12:13 AM

I retired a couple a years ago and gave away all my wore out tools thinging I wouldn’t be doing any more wood working.
Well last winter I started back in to wood working so have been slowly building my tools back up.
I have no need for a big heavy saw to cut 4/4 oak and I’m not cutting full sheets of ply wood lowes will make some cuts for you.
For me the Dewalt contractors saw has one out standing fence and will cut any thing I need.
The only mistake I made was buying the cheapest one which won’t let you use a full dado set. I got mine on sale for $300.
Just $65 more and all would have been right with the world.
I thought I wouldn’t be using the dado so saved a few bucks.
I still get it done just takes more work.
But that’s fine I love this saw.
For the things I make it’s perfect.
It doesn’t take up a lot of room.
One of the best ways to learn wood working is to start building the tools you’ll need around the shop.
A work table will give you a great work experience.

Buy the tools you need as you need them cause as you say you don’t know which way your going.

Just have fun be safe don’t get in a hurry and don’t work tired.

-- There's a hundred ways to do anything, alot depends on the tools at hand.

View NormG's profile


5424 posts in 2426 days

#3 posted 03-06-2016 05:20 AM

All excellent advise. Read some books, looks at some projects and see what you will need to make those projects, start off with small ones first and build your skills from there

-- Norman

View Cathie Zimmerman's profile

Cathie Zimmerman

56 posts in 235 days

#4 posted 03-08-2016 07:54 AM

Thanks everyone for suggestions and words of experience! Great ideas too. Tonight I was surprised with a trip to Home Depot to pick up a Ridgid R4215. Talk about spoiled! I have a good amount of room for my shop and if I decide it realllly isn’t for me… I’m sure my dad would want a crack at buying the saw from me.

Anyway… everything lined up perfectly and some how, some way she was able to get it for $150 less than regular price. The manager saw my DOD (DAVPERM) ID and not only gave us the standard 10% discount but also only charged me a penny for an 80 tooth Diablo 10 inch blade and thanked me for being crazy enough to be a Marine.

Anyway, we brought it home and I built some of the bottom half. I took the advice to not get in a hurry or work tired so didn’t force myself to finish everything tonight. I’m really excited about bringing a particular idea to life… It will be fun to chronicle the adventure too. I want to build a small table and two chairs for a good friend’s 6 and 3 year old kids. I want to do the top in an end grain pattern (is that what it’s called?) so when they grow out of it, I can take the top off and cut it down to a cutting board their mom can keep and use.

The dog, of course, was an excellent supervisor and was extremely excited about quitting time and bed time.

Thanks for all the good advice!

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